Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate held off a late Mercer comeback in the first game and Mercer came back to take the win in game two as the Spartans and the Bears split their A-Sun doubleheader at Cyrill Stadium Friday night.
Upstate stands 27-5 overall and 1-1 in the A-Sun. Mercer is 20-14 overall and 1-1. Upstate will face Kennesaw State Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm. Mercer travels to Johnson City, Tenn., Saturday for a doubleheader at ETSU.
Mercer starting pitcher Kassie Bailey helped herself out early in the first game. She delivered an RBI-single in the top of the first to give the Bears a 1-0 lead and hit a two-run homer in the third inning to give Mercer a 3-1 lead.
Upstate cut into Mercer's lead in the fourth inning. After Robinson led off the inning with a walk, Griffin followed with a single. Ashley Butler (Laurens, S.C.) moved the runners over with a ground out. Hayley Renifeld (Parkland, Fla.) reached on a fielder's choice, driving in a run when Robinson scored from third and the Mercer throw was not in time to get her. Janna Lewis (Huntersville, N.C.) followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3.
Upstate took control of the game in the fifth inning, plating five runs to open an 8-3 lead. Kendall Settlemyre (Hickory, N.C.) walked to lead off the inning and advanced to third on Lindsay Kelly's (Jacksonville, Fla.) double. Robinson was intentionally walked to lead the bases with no outs.
Settlemyre was forced out at the plate for the first out of the inning, but Butler followed with an RBI-single to give the Spartans a 4-3 lead. Robinson scored on the play when the throw into the infield was muffed as Upstate took a 5-3 lead.
Griffin scored on a wild pitch to make it a 6-3 Upstate lead and pinch runner Kara Lohr (Lexington, N.C.) scored on Reinfeld's sacrifice fly to give the Spartans an 8-3 advantage.
Alexander pitched out of a jam in the sixth inning. Tiffany Phillips led off the inning with a double and Sara Stukes followed with a single. Stukes advanced to second on the play on a ground out to put runners at second and third with one out. However, Alexander got a foul out and a strikeout to end the threat and keep the Spartans ahead, 8-3.
Mercer mounted a rally in the top of the seventh. McKenzie Woody reached on a walk and Kristin Marko followed with a single to right. Sarah Santana reached on an infield single to load the bases. Woody scored when Bailey reached on a fielder's choice.
Phillips followed with a double to score a run and bring Mercer within 8-5. Stukes then hit a hard liner to first that glanced off the glove of Griffin for a single that brought in two runs as the Bears got within 8-7. Alexander got a force out at second for the second out of the inning and struck out the next batter to end the game and secure the win for the Spartans.
Alexander improved to 16-2 on the year with the win. She allowed seven runs on 13 hits with seven strikeouts. Mercer starter Kassie Bailey took the loss and fell to 4-6 on the year. She allowed eight runs on seven Upstate hits.
Griffin led Upstate at the plate, finishing with two hits. Robinson scored three runs and Reinfeld collected a pair of RBIs. Bailey led Mercer at the plate with two hits and four RBIs. Phillips had three hits, while Stukes added two hits and two RBIs for the Bears.
Mercer put together a threat in the top of the first inning in game two, loading the bases with one out. However, Upstate starter Lacey Dinney (Hannon, Ontario) pitched out of the jam with a foul out and a strikeout.
Mercer jumped on top in the third inning when Bailey doubled to drive in Rea, putting the Bears up 1-0. Upstate put a runner on in the bottom of the third when a rain cell came through and caused a delay.
The teams returned to the field after a 1:57 rain delay, restarting the game at 10:04 p.m. Upstate moved Settlemyre over to second with a sacrifice, but stranded her as the game moved to the top of the fourth with Mercer leading, 1-0.
Upstate attempted to tie the game in the fifth. The Spartans loaded the bases with two outs, but could not push a run across as Mercer starter Jessica Holsinger pitched out of the jam.
Mercer took control of the game with three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Sarah Santana scored on a passed ball and Randi Rea hit a two-run homer to give the Bears a 4-0 lead.
Upstate got a run back in the bottom of the sixth on Lewis' sacrifice fly.
Mercer loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh. Upstate reliever Casee Clauser (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) got a pop out for the first out of the inning. Clauser got another out when Krista Kennedy reached on a fielder's choice, but Lewis forced out the runner at home. Clauser then got Rea to pop out to end the threat.
Upstate mounted a threat in the bottom of the seventh, putting runners on first and second, but Mercer held on for the win.
Holsinger improved to 10-2 with the win, while Dinney fell to 9-3.